Anyone who has met me knows that the thinking of the late political philosopher John Rawls looms large over my worldview. Despite a half century elapsing since he published his magnum opus A Theory of Justice, Rawls’ ideas remain especially relevant in the internet era, given the outsized role that platforms have had in broadening access to economic opportunity, as well as in perpetuating wealth inequality. His work, which challenges us to adopt a “veil of ignorance” in reasoning about the principles for determining the fair allocation of resources in a society, is increasingly relevant to the conversation around web3.
Earlier today, this essay was published on Harvard Business Review evaluating both web2 and web3 through the lens of Rawls’ theory of justice, and offering a set of principles to guide web3’s development towards creating a fairer, better internet. I hope it provokes conversation on the “why” of web3 and a greater degree of intentionality around the impact that we have as builders and participants in the ecosystem. I hope you enjoy it, and join the discussion on Twitter.
One of the most powerful narratives surrounding web3 is that it is a movement toward a better, fairer internet. Specifically, web3 proponents envision an internet in which users can wrest back power from a small number of extractive, centralized institutions, and in which everyone with an internet connection can participate on a level playing field.